Every Spring, I think I am excited about running. I completely romanticize jogging gently in the crisp air, alone with my thoughts while marveling at the re-birth of mother nature evidenced by that long-awaited green haze that emerges. At West Point, each spring I would go along with a runner friend of mine. After that first trip up to Stoney Lonesome, I would remember that, in fact, I do not enjoy running. There is nothing gentle about the way I jog. I often can’t hear the thoughts in my head over the cracking in my knees and the wheezing in my chest. And that green haze is mostly pollen.
Nevertheless, last year, I signed up for a Lazy Man Triathlon through our local YMCA. It was a fun fitness goal and I could do all the running on the elliptical if I wanted. I ended up doing the equivalent of three Iron Mans over a six-week period. And I was so inspired that I decided to run a Tri Sprint. That is a 500 meter swim, 12 mile bike and a 5 K run. I had trained so much for the first two events, I wasn’t worried about them. But I have to admit, actually running 3.1 miles was daunting. While training in the pool one morning, I got a wonderful piece of advice from a complete stranger. Just keep going. She said that was the key to completing a triathlon.
Spring is here and I am once again trying to prove that I enjoy running. I accidentally ran 5 miles a couple of weeks ago. This morning, I took advantage of having my mother visiting and went for a “long” run before the boys got up. I ran a windy and chilly 6.2 miles. It is the farthest distance I can recall ever running voluntarily. If I was ever forced to run farther, I have blocked it from my memory. I know some of my friends run that far before the sun comes up and then keep going for another 20. I won’t embarrass myself by posting my time, but I was reminded again of that advice I got last summer. Just keep going. And that is what I did. I couldn’t help but thinking that was good advice not just for triathlons or running, but for most things in life, too.
Just keep going. Paul says in Philippians 3:13-14 “…forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” A runner runs for the finish line, but in life we run for heaven. And we can simply keep going, putting one foot in front of the other here on earth, because we know that this race has already been won for us. Jesus’ race was not easy, yet he ran flawlessly. On His last lap, He carried the very cross he would be crucified upon after being broken and bloodied.
We are constantly tempted and weighed down by our sin. We are tossed about and buffeted by many hardships, stresses and loss. Our bodies may weaken, cause us pain, and even fail us. Often our pace is not one we can take pride in and we feel as though we are running up hill against the wind through sand. Still, we must “…lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him, endured the cross, despising the shame and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12:1-2 It is with faith that we are able to just keep going in this race of life with the knowledge that our victory lap will be run in Heaven.